A Love Supreme: The Life of a Pre-Divorcee

It's an odd quiet. The life of a pre-divorcee, that is. From the strangled sobs bouncing off the bathroom tiles to the way A Love Supreme echoes against hardwood floors and lands on the softness of a slate blue sofa, the quietness isn't really quietness at all. It's the chaotic stillness of a woman who no longer knows what to do with her hands. What to do with love that withered like basil on a windowsill. It is the sizzle of polenta in a skillet after work on a Wednesday instead of the gurgle of a coffeemaker to keep a lover awake.

Quiet is relative. No matter television volume, the chirps and blips of gadgets or the purr of an engine. Quiet is in the heart. It is the dropping of pronouns. No longer we or us. Quiet makes the questions boomerang. Makes them roll off the skin like oil.

She worries how she must appear to the neighbors. So little furniture, out of state license plates, a small bit of pale skin on the left hand, a life that starts at sunup and ends with the extinguishing of the porch light. Normal life sounds are reduced to the faint strains of jazz filtering skyward through vents and the single set of footsteps moving back and forth from living room to bedroom and back. No pizza delivery, no visits, no noise. Just the nearly silent ins and outs of a woman with tired eyes and a mass of keys announcing each arrival and departure.

This stillness is massive. It hovers and settles, retreats, and returns. Almost breathing. Certainly fluid, viscous. Too thick to remedy with girls' nights out and spa days. There are no clubs and drunken text messages that can fill the void with his voice. So she wants to die. To drive her car into traffic and stop the quiet once and for all. But she isn't selfish. Then come the pills. A bottle of store brand sleeping capsules which have been the only way she could sleep the last two months and eighteen days. Warned against addiction, she tells the world she sleeps without them, yet each night the blue gel pill makes its way from the dresser top down her throat. There are fifty-seven in the bottle. Enough to slow her breathing to cessation and leave her presentable for a funeral. She fills the yellow pitcher halfway with water and palms the bottle. This small rattle of death is the last sound until the stillness lifts.

It's an odd quiet. The life of a pre-divorcee who is more afraid of the darkness than she is of the quiet. It is the sound of hammers hanging drapes and the rearranging of furniture. It is the reaching out. To an ex. To an old friend. To a father. To the world bit by bit. It is the ability to make plans that extended past each work day and beyond the hours between employment and sleep.

Quiet is relative. No matter the echoes, the emptiness of a domestic life being rebuilt, or the single dinners. Quiet is in the heart. It is the return of pronouns. Now I and me. Quiet makes the questions boomerang. Makes them roll off the skin like oil.

Athena Dixon is co-founder/prose editor of Specter Literary Magazine, poetry editor of The Reprint, and a managing editor for Z-Composition. Her work has appeared both online and print and is forthcoming in several journals. She writes, edits, and resides in NE Ohio.

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